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Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality

News ArchiveAfter last year's successful march through downtown Spokane on the 4th of July addressing standard American rights, a follow-up was planned for this year, only this time directed straight at our police force here, which over the past couple years has become outrageously known for police brutality and overly violent detailing of situations. This is a blog I wrote about the march today.

July 4th, 2007

I no longer believe that any civil rights I may have once had exist anymore. I had so many of my Constitutional rights taken from me this evening, it's ludicrous.

A large group of protesters of all ages and demographics (NOT just a bunch of teens like what's being portrayed by the news) met under the bridge in Peaceful Valley today. A few speeches were read aloud, reading off statistics of deaths by police brutality as compared to deaths of police on the job. An older gentleman gave an inspiring speech about standing up for our First Amendment rights on our Independence Day, and how important this march was to raise awareness of the ever increasing level of police brutality and stripping of civil rights all across the country, including our own city. A few police officers came up, and wanted to announce to us all that they support our right to protest and march, so long as we don't violate any traffic laws, and don't block traffic or anything of the sort, then there would be no problems whatsoever and we would be free to peacefully assemble and speak out.

The march went wonderfully. Police cruisers kept in constant eyesight, making sure nothing illegal was done. Lots of cars honked, waved, and shouted their support. We ended in Riverfront Park, near the clock tower, where our group proceeded to sit down to enjoy a picnic. Police surrounded us, taking pictures of all of our faces against our will. One officer told myself and one other protester that our picnic was too close to the band area by the stage, and to move it over to the other side of a designated blue spray paint line on the grass. I personally asked everyone to stand up, and we moved everything over, complying 100%. The police continued taking photographs, so we photographed them back. We asked one for his badge number and name, and he refused, saying we didn't have the right to know that. The officer then went around the group, and pushed Zach St. John off of a bucket he was sitting on. Zach jumped up, cursed at the officer, and asked why he did what he did. In response, Zach was accosted, handcuffed, choked, and beaten, right in front of all of us. We started chanting "let him go!" and asking what he did wrong. One officer grabbed my friend Meg by the throat and threw her to the ground. I yelled at him, "Why did you do that!? She didn't do anything wrong? What is your problem? No one is doing anything illegal! Let Zach go!"

The officer told me if I didn't get back, he would arrest me. I took two steps back, and asked again what Zach had gone wrong, and why they weren't reading him his rights. The officer ignored me, and I told him I wanted his name and badge number, as well as the other officers, because I wanted to report them for police misconduct. They refused, and took Zach away. Things somewhat died down afterwards, I tried my best, as did others, to maintain a sense of calm with our crowd, and convinced everyone to sit back down and we'd just bail Zach out.

Police called for reinforcements, at least 30-40 of them showed up, and had a huge grip of zip ties in hand. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and was trying to get someone with a video camera to come with me to speak to the police, and get the badge numbers and names of the officers responsible for arresting Zach. Instead, the cops came at us, batons drawn, zip-ties out, ordering us to leave the park because we were trespassing. We huddled together in a group, arm in arm, demanding to know how we were trespassing in a public park. Rather than answering us, the police started violently pushing us backwards onto the road, where more officers were waiting behind us. After separating our group into several smaller ones, they started shoving people with their batons, yelling that we were trespassing and to "get the fuck out of their park". I kept yelling back "why are you doing this? how are we trespassing? we haven't broken any laws!"

The police tore Hannah Jones away from me, and zip tied her hands. I had my arm around Savannah, trying to protect her from the cops baton that he kept shoving us back with. He ripped Savannah from me and arrested her as well. He told me to keep my hands up and that I was under arrest. I told him I would comply, but I wanted to know what I was being charged with first, and how I was supposedly trespassing in a public space. Rather than answering my simple question, the officer struck me in the hip with his baton, then struck me again in the chest with the butt of it. He grabbed me by the hair, told me I was a faggot and that I was going to jail, and handed me off to another officer. My hands were zip-tied behind my back, and I was led to a pile of people all face down, zip-tied, and in pain. I was searched, then thrown face down into the pile. Savannah was crying, and I could see her hands turning purple because her zip ties were tied so tightly. Cassie was the next one thrown into the pile. She screamed and cried as the officers zip-tied her hand, which was cut open and stitched previously to the march. She asked him over and over again to loosen the one on her right hand, because it had stitches. The cops ignored this.

Mikael Phelps was the next one I saw detained. He was yelling at an officer about Cassie's hand, and was zip tied and thrown face down, then called a retard by the officer. After a few more people were apprehended, I was picked up and escorted to a police car. Along the way, i heard many onlookers in the park asking what we had done wrong, the police didn't answer any of them. I was thrown in the back of a squad car alongside David Glen, then taken to County Jail.

I was completely compliant and kept my mouth shut all during processing. I knew I had not committed a crime today, and didn't intend to make matters any worse than they were. When processing was finished, the officer asked me to sign a paper stating that I knew why I was detained. I told him, "Officer, I have no idea why I was arrested. I didn't break any laws. No one told me what I did wrong, and no one read me any rights." The officer told me I was being charged with third degree trespassing, which is a misdemeanor. I told him I wasn't trespassing, I was just in a public park.

While in the holding cell waiting to get led upstairs, I was talking to Zach St John. His arm was cut wide open from the handcuffs, and he learned he was being charged with 2nd degree assault of a police officer, with no bail.

I was fingerprinted, and made to strip off my clothes and put on a pair of pink underwear, pink socks, and blue overalls. I was given a comb, a toothbrush, toothpaste, one blanket, a pink towel, and one sheet, and led to my cell. David and I were in the cell together for several hours before my mother came and posted my $500 bail.

I am now at home, reading through the news websites of what they claimed happen. I want it to be known right now, that neither myself, nor anyone involved in this protest today, committed any sort of crime, nor did we break any law whatsoever. Our protest was against police brutality, and the actions of Spokane's finest this evening proved even more so that the cops in this town are completely out of control. Hundreds of people in Riverfront Park today watched myself and 16 others get my civil liberties taken away, and witnessed us being treated like common animals. Not a single one of us were ever read any rights. Not a single one of us were told why we were being arrested, other than trespassing. From what I heard from the officers in the park today, there was no dispersal order. There was no warning. There was no reason for any of this. I am so utterly disgusted to be an American today.

One of the signs today said "police the police". Who is there to stop people like this from being able to get away with these kinds of actions?

Some video footage:

I have a court arraignment tomorrow to see about fighting to get my charges dropped. However, I imagine not a single one of those abusive, power-hungry police officers will get any sort of punishment for the atrocious acts they commited on us today.
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Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality
Authored by: Aza on Thursday, July 05 2007 @ 06:39 PM CDT
I was there I already posted at this site. I agree that both parties were in the wrong, but the protesting group also was in the wrong. I don't personally agree with your ideals, I understand your need to voice them. The only problem is while voicing them you offend people. What about their rights? Are you not violating their rights? The right to enjoy a public park? You have that right too, but you also choose to have an agenda. In that case I believe you violated your rights as you were forcing your views on others. You broke their rights to peace which in turn voided yours. I talked to a few of your members, some of them are highly intelligent speakers, but doing something like that wasn't. You could of picked any other day, but I suspect you purposely choose that day for a reason and an agenda. By the way, I think if you spent more time in other countries (other then the ones connected to North America) You'd see a great difference between lifestyles. I know if that protest was ever done in China, none of you would even be acknowledged anymore. Same in a multitude of countries. I'm not saying America is best, far from it. We get involved too much when we shouldn't, we don't even feed our own poor, politics are corrupt. But I can tell you it could be much much worse.

Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality
Authored by: Admin on Thursday, July 05 2007 @ 11:07 PM CDT
People have a right to protest and publicly state their views pretty much whenever or wherever they want. Certainly, public parks are pretty quiet places most of the time. But in the U.S., freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are mentioned in the Bill of Rights. There is nothing in the Bill of Rights about a constitutional right to be free of protest in some public park.

Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality
Authored by: bradspangler on Friday, July 06 2007 @ 08:27 AM CDT
@Aza: You have no idea what a "right" even is if you think its exercise is contingent upon not being offensive. The whole point of freedom of speech is that one ought to be free to say, without fear of violent reprisal, things that the ruling elite, its cronies and its dupes find "offensive" -- as truth does indeed "offend" those who are in the wrong. To deny the right to speak the truth as one sees it, as you have done, is to betray the cause of human freedom that voiced itself, however imperfectly, on July 4th, 1776.
Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality
Authored by: SL on Thursday, July 05 2007 @ 08:38 PM CDT
I only wish to point out one thing, Aza. If by offending random park goers simply by voicing their opinions is violating their rights then would you also say that Christian groups that hang around downtown "spreading the word of God" are violating my rights?

The peaceful protest yesterday was nothing but that, a peaceful protest. If you did not notice, since you were there, the protesters simply marched through the festivities and then finished with a lovely little picnic. They never violated any of your rights. Not one of them. They marched for what it is that they believe in and if I can recall correctly they have the right to do just that. It's called the freedom of speech and isn't that one of the fundamental rights that makes our America so great? Freedom of speech means that the newspaper can say what they wish to say, you can say what you wish to say, I can say what I wish to say, and all of those protesters yesterday should have been able to say whatever they wish to say without being harassed or beaten by police so full of themselves and their power.

I believe this whole situation is absolutely ridiculous. Those people yesterday were protesting police brutality because they believe it is a problem. Do you not remember the case of poor Otto Zehm who was tasered to death by our police force? Or what about Trent Yohe who was also tasered and beaten by police who died shortly after this incident (his death is now listed as homicide). None of the officers who KILLED/beat those men were ever charged with anything. They got to kill someone with no consequences. Is that not wrong? Do police officers have the right to kill someone or beat an 18 year old boy yesterday at the park just because they are the police? This is one of those injustices. People in power using their power the wrong way.

The protest yesterday just proved their point. The police here in Spokane are out of control. They believe, for them, it's okay to kill. So, if someone finally decides that it's time to take a stand against this... then they are shoved down and arrested?
Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality
Authored by: nike chiapas on Sunday, July 08 2007 @ 12:14 AM CDT
"The officer then went around the group, and pushed Zach St. John off of a bucket he was sitting on. Zach jumped up, cursed at the officer, and asked why he did what he did. In response, Zach was accosted, handcuffed, choked, and beaten, right in front of all of us. We started chanting "let him go!" and asking what he did wrong."

When has chanting "Let him go!" ever worked?

Mulambo MF!
Spokane: Police brutality protest ends in police brutality
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, July 08 2007 @ 12:27 AM CDT
It doesn't work in the sense that appealing to the police to do something positive for protesters ever works.

It's probably useful as a psychological tactic, in that it induces panic among the cops and help facilitate unarrests.

If you unarrest somebody, you probably shouldn't stick around. The cops will show up with reinforcements and arrest everybody. Cops really hate it when people disrespect their authority.